This past weekend, my family and I embarked on our final  weekend together before the boys were to begin another school year.

In the interest of  R E L A X A T I O N, we let ourselves get talked into a group camping trip with some friends.

Did I mention “relaxation?” Notsomuch. Relaxing, it was not. But it was an experience. 

The weekend started off how any good camping trip should — with a torrential downpour. It lasted for HOURS. I’m not kidding when I say that we put the tent up, tarped the bejesus out of it, and hoped for the best.

Surprisingly, I slept like a log. Even though I woke up in a puddle.

By morning our group was greeted with remnant showers but a brighter forecast. The boys went straight for the communal campfire (fire, fire!) while I went for a run. (Gotta keep to the marathon schedule, right?) 

I’ll spare you the gory details of that particular run except to say that what was supposed to be a three mile jaunt ended up as a 6 1/2 mile trail run during which I had a hysterical topple. Let’s get real – one can not expect Jen Gerlock to run a lakeside trail dodging vines, rocks, logs and wildlife without hitting the ground at some point. NOT FEASIBLE. The resulting leg injury is one that any teenage boy would envy. Looks like I wiped out on my skateboard. Totally gnarly.

After my epic wipe out I fed what was left of my ego with copious amounts of campfire bacon. And then, then I got in a canoe.

Let me repeat that…  A CANOE. On purpose, people.

I CANOED. In a lake. A big damn lake.

Perhaps we should pause a moment to acknowledge what a monumental experience that was for me. This girl does not do water sports. She does not kayak. She does water ski. She does not canoe.

Water phobia? Perhaps. All I know is I watched the movies Jaws and Piranha as a child and I’ve never been the same.

I mere 20 (!) years later I can lay claim to the fact that I successfully and CALMLY canoed across a 243-acre lake.  No panic. No drama. No deadly fish attacks.

My kids were proud of me. It was really liberating.

Of course, my own children canoe and kayak like it is absolutely no big deal so I didn’t get much time to revel in the fact that I conquered my fear.


We spent the rest of the weekend fishing and hiking and making S’mores. (Plus – no makeup!) It really was a blast. I think the key was having multiple families camping out together. The boys had partners in crime and we had drinking pals, I mean, “camping buddies.” (Because technically, you can not drink alcohol in the park unless it is in your camper. Note to self – GET A CAMPER, STAT.)

Lake Habeeb

If you are looking for a good place to camp with your family, I highly recommend Rocky Gap State Park. Stunning views, endless activity options and an overall clean, beautiful environment.

Rocky Gap contains over 3,000 acres of public land in Western Maryland’s Allegany County. Surrounding the park area are gorgeous mountains and the 243-acre Lake Habeeb. (But no piranhas. Bonus!)